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Death Squads & SARS Mean Thailand's No Ibiza

Author: Jonty Adderley (
Saturday, May 31, 2003
A lethal combination of the SARS epidemic and a murderous anti-drug campaign is devastating Thailand's tourist industry, according to reports in this week's media. Booking for May have fallen by 55%, the Sunday Times revealed, as safety concerns have frightened tourists away.

While the Sunday Times identified the SARS epidemic as the biggest factor behind the drop, a report on this week's New York Times highlighted Thailand's horrific new anti-drug campaign which has seen over 2,000 people murdered since it began in February. The paper talked of shadowy death squads comprising gangsters and professional killers carrying out the assassinations, which the government claimed are almost all 'gang-related'

"The killings in this anti-drug campaign look exactly the same as these professional hits (mafia-style murders carried out before the campaign)," local professor Pasuk Phongpaichit told the New York Times).

"Critics are accused of being in the pay of the drug lords. International bodies have been told not to interfere. Not surprisingly, no investigative journalist has dared to look closely at the killings," said the Professor.

His comments came days after DJ magazine published a three page feature on Thailand headlined Club Paradise Asia, which began 'Sick of Ibiza- Fancy going somewhere more adventurous-' Focusing on party island Kho Samui (the drop off point for the even more infamous Koh Phangan), the magazine raved about bar Gecko ('If you think Ibiza's Cafe Del Mar's got the perfect ambience, wait until you've seen this place') and concluded 'it isn't hard to envisage Koh Samui as the ultimate clubbing destination'. Over in Mixmag, however, veteran promoter/ label chief Alex Gold was (coincidentally) more realistic.

"Other places have tried to emulate Ibiza," said Gold.

"But Goa is too hippified and Thailand too strict. British people have always loved Spain because it's so relaxed."